Wednesday, 4 December 2013
So. Government intends to sell its 40% stake in Eurostar.
Danny Alexander said the following on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning (courtesy of the Guardian):
"We've set out already, we've started to sell off some of the student loan book, that would be another area, there are assets owned by the London and Continental Railways, things that a lot of people wouldn't have thought the state owned in the first place.
"What I'm setting out today is an ambition with some examples of things we think we could sell. Clearly no final decisions have been made about any of those assets, but clearly the point is that where government owns assets that could be better managed in the private sector, could be more efficiently managed in the private sector and where we can get money in to reinvest in vital infrastructure projects that get this country moving, that support the long-term economic growth of this country, they can back up the vote of confidence that we're seeing from the private sector."
No doubt this announcement came as little surprise to London and Continental, what with government being all joined up and all!
Eye expects there will be vast queues of private investors keen to take on LCR's stake in Eurostar... as well as the obligations of the 1987 Rail Usage Contract, which remains in force till 2052:
After privatisation, Eurostar and English Welsh and Scottish Railway assumed British Rail's preferences and liabilities under the contract through 'back-to-back' agreements, which account for 50% of Eurotunnel's capacity. The contract guarantees a minimum level of income for Eurotunnel, which helped it meet its liabilities for construction costs and now also serves as the basis for how access charges are levied on all railway undertakings using the Channel Tunnel.
Joined up government indeed.
UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...
Well if they do succeed in flogging off the government stake in Eurostar it will save some embarrassment on the East Coast franchise competition.
What with DfT planning to boot off today's state owned operator and possibly replace it with Eurostar, which is errr... another state owned operator!